As an Auctioneer Partner of the ANA World’s Fair of Money, Stack’s Bowers Galleries recently sold Part IV of the Sydney F. Martin Collection in their August 2023 Global Showcase Auction. Named “The New England Sale” due to its numismatic focus, the auction realized a total of $3,817,668 USD. This brings Stack’s Bowers cumulative total for the Sydney F. Martin Collection to almost $15 million.
Sydney Martin was known for his collecting acumen and famous holdings. He created definitive reference books for several of the items he actively collected.
Martin was also an important participant in numismatic organizations and clubs, such as the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4).
The first section from Martin’s collection of contemporary medals relating to the history of the British American colonies, better known as Betts medals, produced strong results. Martin was catholic in his tastes, gathering up historically significant items worth just a few hundred dollars, as well as those worth into six figures. Gold items are rare in the series, but that did not stop Martin from acquiring five different medals in gold, including the Louisbourg Taken medal (Betts-410) graded PCGS MS-63, which brought $180,000 after spirited bidding. John Law medals proved popular, with Martin’s (1720) Put Up or Shut Up medal (Betts-134) in tin graded AU-50 by PCGS bringing an incredible $14,400. His thin planchet (ca. 1584) Raleigh Plantation token (Betts-15) graded PCGS EF-40 soared to $28,800.
Over 80 lots of the 17th-century coinage of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were marked by uniform high quality for each variety, with Martin having acquired many condition census pieces and coins with significant pedigrees. His Noe-2 Pine Tree shilling, known as the “Straight Tree” variety, was graded AU-58+ by PCGS and brought $20,400.
Seven Higley coppers were on offer in this auction, representing the balance of Martin’s unprecedented 13-piece die variety collection of the series. His 1739 Broad Axe, Freidus 3.3-D variety graded VF-20 by PCGS climbed to $66,000.
Martin had a great love for Connecticut coppers, and his collection, the most complete ever formed by die marriage, has been sold in sections starting with the 1785-dated coins in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ August 2022 auction. In the August 2023 auction, the first half of the 1787-dated issues was sold, achieving some of the highest prices in years for these consistently high-quality Connecticut coppers. His 1787 Miller 1.3-L, a Rarity-6- variety graded VF-20 by PCGS was bid up to an incredible $30,000, while a star of the entire Connecticut series, one of only two known 1787 Miller 1.4-WW with Liberty Seated Facing Right (this one graded Fine-12 by PCGS), brought $99,000.
Die variety collecting in the Vermont coppers series has seen a resurgence in recent years, a trend that was on display in the sales of the extreme rarities in Martin’s complete set of Vermont coppers by die variety. Martin was only the second person to complete a 40-piece die variety set of these coins of the Republic of Vermont, and his extremely rare struck 1785 RR-5 Landscape copper pedigreed to the famed Norweb Collection soared to $132,000, nearly double its previous auction record. One of just two known examples of the 1788 Bust Right RR-33 variety brought $108,000, two and a half times what it last brought at auction in 2015.
Rounding out “The New England Sale” was Martin’s front-line collection of 1787 Fugio cents, the most complete offering by die marriage ever brought to major public auction. Type coins like his 1787 Newman 12-X graded PCGS MS-65+ RB proved popular, with this particular coin selling for $21,600. His Newman 11-A “United OverStates” variant brought $36,000 in an MS-64 BN (PCGS) encapsulation, a record for this type at this grade level.
The strong results realized in the first four live auction offerings from the Sydney F. Martin Collection attest to his extraordinary numismatic achievements and contributions to the hobby, as well as the efforts of the Stack’s Bowers team. Complete prices realized for the Martin Collection Part IV, as well as the firm’s entire August 2023 Global Showcase Auction are available at StacksBowers.com.
More information on the Sydney F. Martin Collection can be found on our Featured Collections page. To consign your coins, medals, tokens, and paper money to a Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction, call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].